1

My situation is similar to, but more extreme than:

Brewed an Oatmeal Stout and the gravity did not drop as much as predicted, should I re-pitch or add yeast nutrients/energizer?

Didn't reach target FG, pitched more yeast, gravity same after a week. Should I just bottle already?

Is this a bottle bomb waiting to happen?

I am brewing an Old Monster English Barley wine, here is the malt bill:

Batch Size: 11,50 L 
Boil Size: 13,16 L
Estimated OG: 1,110 SG
Estimated FG: 1,025 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 11,13 % 

2,00 kg Muntons Extra Light DME [Boil for 10 min] Extract 52,49 % 
1,00 kg Muntons Extra Light DME (6,0 EBC) Extract 26,25 % 
0,23 kg Crystal Malt - 60L (Thomas Fawcett) (118,2Grain 5,91 % 
0,23 kg Crushed caramel (6,0 EBC) Grain 5,91 % 
0,06 kg Pale Chocholate (550,0 EBC) Grain 1,44 % 
0,06 kg Special B Malt (354,6 EBC) Grain 1,44 % 
0,25 kg Dextrose (Briess) (2,0 EBC) Sugar 6,56 % 

I used the trub from a previous batch for yeast and the fermentation started fast and was very vigorous (and hot, I measured over 35C when the beer was at high krausen, I think this may have ruined the beer, but when I tasted it it tasted quite fine, but maybe with some weird off flavors I am hoping will disappear with aging). I added more wort in stages to not overwhelm the yeast.

My OG was around 1.112, and after 2 weeks of fermentation it is sitting quite steady at 1.045. This is 0.020 higher than what the recipe describes. I'm using WLP002 English Ale as yeast. My secondary only has room for half of my batch, and I will let that batch sit for some months, but the other half should be taken racked from the primary soon.

As I see it I have a few options:

  1. Bottle now
  2. Wait another week
  3. Warm it up (it is sitting at 17C now) and stir to rouse the yeast and wait another week
  4. Pitch some WLP099 Super high gravity and wait another week

I am quite liking the taste of the sweetness it is at now and do not want any more alcohol in it. How would bottle conditioning work if I bottled at this FG? Would exploding bottles be a problem since the yeast is mostly done?

  • I'm having a cider in secondary, I could bottle it tomorrow, save the sediment and pour it into my lagging batch, stir and warm it up. – nulvinge Oct 31 '14 at 13:46
  • 1
    How did you aerate the wort pre-pitching? – Scott Oct 31 '14 at 16:36
  • I aerated by pouring through a strainer, which admittedly is not the best way to aerate – nulvinge Nov 1 '14 at 8:25
  • 1
    At 1.112, you really do need pure oxygen prior to pitching your yeast, or several doses of oxygen in the first 48-72 hours of fermentation. This is why it finished so high. – Scott Nov 2 '14 at 17:12
2

The yeast will eventually ferment out more sugar, but it can take many months. I have a High FG 12% beer in a keg that I thought was done, only to find it had built up a lot of pressure as the beer continued fermenting. (To be more thorough I should take a sample, degass it and measure the FG to see how much it's dropped.)

3

I would definitely not bottle yet. You may get bottle bombs, but you'll definitely get a beer that's too sweet.

It's only been 2 weeks and for a high gravity barley wine, that's not much at all. You could warm it up in the 70sF (24C?) and see if you can get more fermentation, but I suspect you won't get much more with that yeast.

Personally, I would pitch high gravity yeast and make sure the environment is warm. Give it as much time as you need, too. If the yeast sits for more than 3 weeks, transfer to another vessel so autolysis isn't an issue.

As far as the beer, I think you'll have some problems with fusel alcohols given your high primary (95F) and all that sugar that was there to eat. I'm not sure if fusels dissipate over time, but I don't think so. Might end up be a headache beer either way.

  • Good advice. I'd give it at least a month in primary. – Denny Conn Oct 31 '14 at 15:28
  • Luckily, I think the high FG might work to mask some of the fusel alcohols. – Scott Oct 31 '14 at 16:38
  • @Scott: IMO, it's less about the flavors and more about the response from your body (headaches). – im1dermike Oct 31 '14 at 18:03
  • Wait another two weeks. You are going to have to let this beers rest and age in any way, so why rush now? If, after two weeks, the gravity is still to high, get a champagne yeast (rehidrate if required), give it some yeast food, then pitch it in and give it another month. Then your beer should be fine. Whatever the gravity is at that point will be your final gravity. Bottle in "belgian style" or champagne bottles as a precaution. Age for a while (I leave my beers in a dark cupboard in a cool part of the house). – Atron Seige Nov 1 '14 at 5:44
  • @im1dermike The problem I had was that I did not have a big enough vessel to transfer all of it to secondary, but that may have solved itself today. And I'm quite satisfied with the sweet taste as of now. – nulvinge Nov 1 '14 at 8:31
1

Definitely don't bottle this right now. It is very possible that the yeast will slowly continue fermenting this and create bottle bombs.

What is I think it is unrealistic to expect WLP 002 to do the rest of the work from here unless you wait a while. WLP 002 is a medium attenuator, and going from 1.110 to 1.045 (60% attenuation), it is nearing in the expected range of attenuation (around 70%). WLP 002 is also not great at alcohol tolerance, so with the beer at 8.5% abv and with a lot of CO@, it is creating a tougher environment for the yeast. Also, you are fermenting out of the yeast's ideal (narrow) temp range (18-20°C).

Two weeks is way to quick to go to bottle for a Strong Ale, or to even start worrying about completing fermentaton, especially with WLP 002. You should plan on batch conditioning this for a couple months in total, at 18-20°C, then seeing if you need to add a new pitch around the 4-week point. Finally go to bottles when the beer hits terminal gravity.

I hope that helps.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.